aku-aku: v.. To move a tall, flat bottomed object (such as a bookshelf) by swiveling it alternatively on its corners in a "walking" fashion. [After the book by Thor Heyerdahl theorising the statues of Easter Island were moved in this fashion.] source: LangMaker.com. Aku Aku also has another meaning to the islanders: a spiritual guide.
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name that baby
Posted by dav at 2006 March 23 08:53 PM
File under: Thoughts

Sometime soon Mie and I are going to have to finally decide on a name for our art project. We've been using the "working title" of Gargle, courtesy of Mie's father, but that's probably not going to win her many friends in school so the pressure is on for something a tad more appropriate.

Since both Mie and I have three letter names, a few friends suggested we come up with another three letter name. My friend Jim who was a fellow computer science student back at my University went a step further and suggested a recursive three letter name, such that the initials were also the first name. For example, Amy Michelle Yaginuma = A.M.Y..

I liked this idea, so I wrote some quick ruby code to spit out all possible three letter permutations ending in Y:

for letter1 in 'a'..'z'
  for letter2 in 'a'..'z'
    puts letter1+letter2+'y'

Then I manually took out all the results that simply wouldn't do (like Cqy), yielding a number of normal names (Amy, Fay, Guy, Ivy, Jay, Joy, Ray, Roy) plus plenty of words that would be more creative names (Any, Ary, Bay, Boy, Coy, Day, Fey, Fly, Fry, Gay, Hay, Hey, Icy, Key, Lay, Nay, Pay, Ply, Pry, Say, Shy, Sky, Spy, Sty, Thy, Toy, Way, Wry, Yay). There were also a lot of results that were simply valid utterances although neither name nor recognizable word, such as Axy, Bly, Cey, Ely, Emy, Kny, Koy, Oxy, Pey, Qay, Rey, Umy, Vay, Yfy, etc.. There were a ton of these.

We're not into normal names so that cut out the first set, and yes, I fully expect the "why couldn't you give me a normal name" conversation years from now. You'll appreciate it one day, now go do your homework. Out of the second set, the closest Mie and I could come to an agreement was Sky, but we both thought that was still a little too much of a common hippie name. Personally, my favorites were Sky, Spy and Fly. I thought Yay would be funny for about a month, but figured I'd be made to regert it at some point. Bay is cool on one level, as it ties to San Francisco in a way, but I didn't like the sound of it as a name. Ary was too geeky even for me. I love the irony of Boy, but even I know that would be a mistake. Shy is nice, but could end up being a personality affector in one way or another. I also liked Qay for some reason. Eventually it occurred to me that Qay was the name of a club Mie and I went to the first time I visited her in Tokyo (Mission: Woo). But I just checked the photo record and it was actually called Cay. I kind of like that too.

So that turned up a lot of of possibilities, but nothing really grabbed us. Mie came up with a mutation of the algorithm, which was to make the name have more than three letters, but still be recursive. For example, Brandy Rand Yaginuma = B. Rand Y.. This would greatly increase the possibility space, but we haven't come up with any good ones yet.. I might have to write some code again to help out. Actually Mie's first example of this algorithm was Kinky Ink Yaginuma, which segues into our other category of attempts.

We were watching Born Into Brothels, a great documentary about children of prostitutes in India. One of the kids names was Kochi, which Mie really liked. Of course, this might have something to do with her blog being named Kokochi. A few days later we were out in North Beach and ran across an exotic dancer named Aiku, which Mie also liked. I suppose it's pretty sad that our short list is partially culled from films about prostitution and fake stripper names.

Another restriction Mie has placed on the name is that it must be easily pronouncable
to a native Japanese speaker. This has nixed a few names so far. I've recently started to like Xeni (yes, I got the idea from that Xeni), which is pronounced "SHEH nee", but Mie says that will turn into Jenny in nihongo. I like the idea of X Y as initials. Xeni Zenith Yaginuma! Or how about Wind Xeni Yaginuma, W.X.Y.?

Incidentally, I've always thought Danny and Quinn set the bar when they named their daughter Ada after the world's first computer programmer Ada Lovelace. Great name, great legacy. Geek power!

Mie and I both like the idea of using a place name as either a middle or first name. That way we could rationalize making a family trip there some day. One of these days we'll sit down with an atlas and scour the possibilities. We could also use somewhere we already know and love, like Pai in Thailand.

My friend Sean has been helpful. Before we knew the gender he came up with several names that would be appropriate just in case the baby turned out to be an hermaphrodite. I forget most of them, one was Bevmo. He always goes one step further than the average joe. His more recent suggestions include Feral Yaginuma, Tobor Isrobotspelledbackwards Yaginuma and Cataract Condoleeza Yaginuma.

Um, so as you can see we're not making a lot of progress. We still have at least a few months to decide though. And of course we could always do what our friend Lani did. She refused to name her son when she left the hospital, only settling on Nicholas after getting to know him for a couple of months. That actually makes a lot of sense.

And then there's the important thing with any name in this day and age: is the .com domain available? . Perhaps we should just name her Daughtr .

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Baby names, huh.. There's no hard set rule about having just 3 names you know. Give her 4. Or 5. How about Leeloo's full name from the movie the 5th element? Leeloo Minai Lekarariba-Laminai-Tchai Ekbat De Sebat. Or what about using a nickname to make the recursive name. e.g. RAY. First name (spelling variation of Raven) Rayven, with a middle name starting with A. (Or any first name with the first three letters the same... Raylise, Rayette, Raya, Rayyah, Ray.) Then you could call her Ray for short, and it would still be her initials.

Or even better, what about Xeni Rayven Ann Yaginuma, then you could call her x-ray for short. :)

Posted by: Laura Fisher on March 23, 2006 09:15 PM

Thinking of her being named Yay(!) made me laugh out loud. Also, have to iksnay the Fly - she would be teased relentlessly (like Squish the Fly, Swat the Fly, Shut up Fly Strip, etc...). I do like Xeni, esp the XY - maybe her middle name could be "And" or "Meets"? :) This is hard!!!

Posted by: Ele on March 24, 2006 09:06 AM

I support "Daughtr." You could obscure the datedness of it by going with the Scandinavian tradition of "Dottir," or Dottr in this case.

I also support XRAY. How cool would it be to have a girl in your class with initials XRAY??

Posted by: Ezra Cooper on March 26, 2006 09:31 AM

How cool it is that your daughter will look back decades from now at this conversation coming up with a name for her!

You should make audio/video recordings now too, timeshifted messages to her. Maybe set up a process on a server somewhere to mail selected messages to her decades down the line.

How about "Sly?"

Or "Mie 2.0"

Posted by: cheesebikini on March 27, 2006 11:01 AM

I love Sean's idea of setting up future emails to her. Once we have a domain name for her, let's do that so we can begin writing stuff just to her. We'll just have to be careful not to inundate her so that she's overwhelmed with all our babble. Man, I'm jealous of her generation already! I'd have loved to read my mom and dad's blog!

Posted by: Mie on March 27, 2006 01:59 PM

Spy is a cool name!

Posted by: jcruelty on May 14, 2006 08:28 PM

Remember that this name is most of all to make your daughter happy throughout her life, and not you. I mean, she is a person, not an art project, and she'll be the one who'll have to live with it. So pick something that you honestly think will contribute to *her* living a happy and successful life, and being happy with her name. This shouldn't be something you do for yourself, but something you give to her.

You don't know whether she'll be more on the "out there" side of life, or more traditional. You don't know whether she'll be flamboyant or shy, etc. So you should pick names that you think would work for her in any event throughout her life. This name will have to help her in job interviews, help her be popular in school, etc. This is a gift to your daughter.

I always think since you don't know what kind of person she'll be, a good compromise is to pick one name that is interesting and rare, but combine it with one that is fairly traditional. That way, if she hates her odd first name, she can have people call her by her traditional middle name, and vice versa.

I actually liked Tesla Rhea (or Tesla Ray). Belle and John named their first daughter Zoe -- a nice name, fairly traditional, and has THREE LETTERS. Zoe Xeni Yaginuma? I'm not sure about this recursive thing -- she is a child and not a computer. But if you like the X-ray thing, how about Xeni Ray Yaginuma (or X. Ray Yaginuma for short)? I personally like Viola and Estelle for girls, but I guess that's too traditional for you. Actually, Xenia is an ancient Latin name that I like a lot. My Latin teacher in high school named his daughter Xenia, and everyone (including herself) thought it was a great name -- rare and interesting, but still traditional. Xenia Rhea Yaginuma? Xenia Ray Yaginuma?

At least give her something that she could use later should she not be into weird names at some point in her life. Even if it's just a third name. She'll thank you for it later. This is just my 2c, of course.

Posted by: E Jetmar on June 26, 2006 11:49 PM

ps -- I really like Zoe Xenia Yaginuma.

It has 3 letters, it has the XYZ thing going on, it is *very* pretty but also cool, and it is interesting but at the same time very traditional.

So that's my personal contest entry here.

Posted by: E Jetmar on June 26, 2006 11:53 PM

ps -- I really like Zoe Xenia Yaginuma.

It has 3 letters, it has the XYZ thing going on, it is *very* pretty but also cool, and it is interesting but at the same time very traditional.
Alternatively Xenia Zoe Yaginuma.

So that's my personal contest entry here.

Posted by: E Jetmar on June 26, 2006 11:55 PM

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